The Missionary Spirit Of The Psalms And Prophets -- By: E. P. Barrows

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 017:67 (Jul 1860)
Article: The Missionary Spirit Of The Psalms And Prophets
Author: E. P. Barrows

The Missionary Spirit Of The Psalms And Prophets

Prof. E. P. Barrows

To some it may seem strange that a missionary spirit should be spoken of as belonging to the Old Testament. They may have accustomed themselves to think of such a spirit as peculiar to the new dispensation of the gospel, in contrast with the stern exclusiveness of the Mosaic economy. In one sense this is true. If a missionary spirit be understood as including a regularly organized plan for the conversion of all nations, this is an idea first developed in the New Testament. No one of the ancient prophets ever received from God a command to go and preach the institutions of Moses, or even the fundamental doctrines of revealed religion, to all nations. Christ himself, who came as the Saviour of the world, confined his labors mainly to his own countrymen. It was only in an incidental way that he bestowed his benefactions upon those who were not Israelites. When, early in his ministry, he sent out his twelve apostles to preach, his commission was: “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”1 It

was not till after he had completed the work, of making expiation for the sins of men, and was about to ascend to heaven, that he gave his disciples the broad commission: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”2

But while all this is true, we must never forget that the original covenant with Abraham had respect to the salvation of all nations. Though made with him and his seed after him, its end was to bless all families of the earth: “In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed;”3 “Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him;”4 “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” 5 Although God, for a season, “suffered all nations,” outside of Abraham’s posterity, “to walk in their own ways,”6 it was still with reference to their final recovery and salvation. His plan was, first, to bring one family into covenant with himself, and, having multiplied it to a great nation, to manifest to that nation, by a series of stupendous miracles, his unity and infinite perfections, and subject it, for many successive centuries, to a system of laws...

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